WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden on Monday urged Americans to remain calm and called on vaccinated Americans to get their Covid booster shots amid the new COVID-19 variant known as omicron causing panic around the globe.
Speaking from the White House, Biden said the new variant would reach the U.S., but added omicron is not a cause for panic but concern.
“The best protection against this new variant or any of the variants out there, the ones we’ve been dealing with already, is getting fully vaccinated and getting a booster shot,” Biden said. “Most Americans are fully vaccinated, but not yet boosted.”
“The variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” he added.
Biden went on to say that he did not anticipate any additional travel restrictions and said he didn’t believe there would be a need for lockdowns but did plead with Americans to wear their masks while indoors. The administration believes the current vaccines will do enough to protect against the variant but Biden said the U.S. will do whatever it can to ensure its citizens are safe.
The remarks from the President come after the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning over the weekend that the new variant is causing a global risk is “very high” with the countries reporting cases of the variant growing.
“We’re throwing everything we can at this virus, tracking it from every angle, and that’s what we have to keep doing,” Biden said.
As of Monday, just 42 percent of seniors have gotten their booster shot and 30 percent over the age of 50 have gotten the third shot. However, a small fraction overall has gotten the booster amid the news of vaccine effectiveness wearing off after six months.
The new variant was first detected in southern Africa last week and has now been found in Australia, Canada, Scotland, and Portugal. Biden said last Friday the U.S. would restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries, going into effect Monday.
Israel and Japan have implemented some of the strictest travel bans, temporarily banning foreign visitors.
“While we have those travel restrictions that can slow the speed of omicron, it cannot prevent it. But here’s what it does: it gives us time,” Biden said.
Speaking on ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s Chief Medical Adviser, said omicron gives Americans more reason to get their COVID-19 booster shots.
“We just need to make sure that we know we have tools against the virus in general,” Fauci said.
The White House is working with officials from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans for vaccines. For now, the President does not expect specialized boosters will be necessary to combat omicron.
“We have the best vaccine in the world. The best medicines, the best scientists, and we’re learning more every single day. And we’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed. Not chaos and confusion,” the President added in closing.